The Austen Authors consist of women and one man located all across the US, Canada, and the UK. Naturally our beliefs in regards to Easter and how we celebrate the holiday – or if we do at all – varies widely. Nevertheless, we want to partially devote this week to what was without a doubt a major celebration for Jane Austen and presumably her characters. Since her characters live on in our writings then it is only sensible to imagine them adhering to the traditions surrounding Easter. Plus, we have a bit of an obsession about history! Most of you must as well since you keep coming back for more!
We invite you to join us all week as we individually and collectively share our memories, some recipes, excerpts, slices of history, images, and anything else we deem interesting and fun. Ready?
Where does the name ‘Easter’ come from?
Pagan traditions give us the English word Easter which comes from the word Eostre. According to Bede, the English monastic historian, the Anglo-Saxon word for April was “Eostre-monath” (the month of openings). However, it should be remembered that Christians celebrated the resurrection of Christ long before the word Easter was used, and the word they used for the celebration was Pascha, which is derived from and linked to the Jewish festival of Passover. However, since Pascha was often celebrated in Eostremonath the English Christians began calling it Easter.
Bede also notes that the month was named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre. Gaiman described Eostre as a platinum blond, which is indicative of Eostre’s Nordic background. He also touches on Eostre’s attachment to nature and Spring, describing her as having eyes “the color of a leaf in spring with the sun shining through it.” When she walks, wildflowers bloom in her wake.
Rituals related to the goddess Eostre focus on new beginnings, symbolized by the Easter egg, and fertility, which is symbolized by the hare (or Easter bunny).
What about the date moving all over the place?
The Feast of Easter was well established by the second century. But there had been dispute over the exact date of the Easter observance between the Eastern and Western Churches. The East wanted to have it on a weekday because early Christians observed Passover every year on the 14th of Nisan, the month based on the lunar calendar. But, the West wanted Easter to always be a Sunday regardless of the date.
To solve this problem the emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea in 325. The question of the date of Easter was one of its main concerns. The council decided that Easter should fall on Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. But fixing up the date of the Equinox was still a problem. The Alexandrians, noted for their rich knowledge in astronomical calculations were given the task. And March 21 was made out to be the perfect date for spring equinox.
The dating of Easter today follows the same. Accordingly, churches in the West observe it on the first day of the full moon that occurs on or following the Spring equinox on March 21, so it became a movable feast between March 21 and April 25.
That is the short version! If you really want to try and understand the convoluted history and dating techniques, here is a great site: Easter Date on ChristianHistory.net
How does Easter begin?
The week of Easter begins on Palm Sunday, seven days before Easter. In Roman times it was customary to welcome royalty by waving palm branches, so when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on what is now known as Palm Sunday, people welcomed him as the returning king while waving palm branches and carpeting the streets with them. Today on Palm Sunday Christians carry palm branches in parades, and make them into crosses and garlands to decorate the Church. Traditional foods served on Palm Sunday include figs because Jesus is said to have eaten figs on his entry into the city of Jerusalem. Some people still call this day Fig Sunday. In Wales the day is known as Sul y Blodau or Flowering Sunday because of the association with the flowering of the fig tree.
Palm Sunday this year was yesterday. Did anyone celebrate in a special way?
- Which Austen actor portrayed Captain Frederick Tilney in 2007′s Northanger Abbey? Mark Dymond
- To where did Susan Adriani vacation in February? Panama
- When will Fitzwilliam Darcy: Rock Star be released? September 2011
- According to Kara Louise, what “should” Mr. Knightley’s bumper sticker say? If I speak to you of your faults, it is only because I care for you.
- Where does Cindy Jones prefer when she needs a little R&R and a whole lot of writing? New Mexico
- What is the title of Karen Wasylowski’s first novel? Darcy and Fitzwilliam
- When and where was the first ball drop to signal “New Year’s” passing? 1833 England’s Royal Observatory at Greenwich
- When did the Pasadena (CA) Rose Parade originate? 1890
- Which krewe is the first organization to celebrate the opening of Carnival? Phunny Phorty Phellows (Funny Forty Fellows)
- When did Old Westminster Palace suffer extensive fire damage? 1834
- According to Cindy Jones, what “should” be Maria Bertram’s New Year’s resolution? request a transfer to Emma
- What is the title of Jane Odiwe’s February 2011 release? Mr. Darcy’s Secret
- In 2010, what was the cost of the items from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”? $96, 824
- What is the title of Mary Simonsen’s second novel? The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy
- Who is the publisher for Fall in Love Like a Romance Novelist? HCI
- When did the “Great Freeze” take place? the winter of 1683-1684
- Which Austen actor has a birthday on January 9? Ann Firbank; January 14? Jemma Redgrave; January 19? Felicity Jones
- With whom has Lynn Shepherd developed her Twitter storytelling project? Adam Spunberg
- Who sang the song “In the Name of Love” as part of the birthday tribute to Abigail Reynolds? Bert Jerred
- For what does the acronym JANE stand? the Jane Austen Network
The Truth About Mr. Darcy is coming and, as the author of it, I should know precisely how many days, hours, and minutes there are until it hits the shelves. To be honest, though, I don’t. I haven’t been keeping track—at all. In between the insanity that has become my life lately, I’ve been reading interview questions and topic suggestions for my upcoming blog tour. Oh, and writing frantically.
That’s right, I’ve been trying very hard to finish up my second novel, which I am loathe to admit I haven’t spent nearly enough time working on in the past year. There’s also another story I started a while ago that I’ve been slowly adding to, and another plot line in the back of my head. And of course, there’s that indecipherable blur of my to do list that’s been giving me the evil eye. Wait, what? Whoops, sorry—my mistake. That last one is really just Mr. Darcy, who’s been growing increasingly cranky while waiting around for an opportunity to declare himself to Elizabeth Bennet…again. (Geesh, I would have thought he’d have gotten it right by now, wouldn’t you?)
That having been said, I’m really just trying to keep myself busy so I won’t worry about the enormity of having a book on the shelf of an actual bookstore. When I give it a moment, the reality of it makes me giddy—ridiculously so; but if I think about it too long, which I’ve been known to do on many occasions, it becomes more than a little bit scary.
The arrival of the advance reader’s copy (ARC) I received from my publicist (with the teeny-tiny print on the cover that reads uncorrected advance copy) only succeeded in adding to my terror. It was a very exciting moment when I got it in the mail, as the startled FedEx man can attest to. (I may have screamed and danced a little in the driveway…in my pajamas, but really, who wouldn’t have?) Once I ripped open the package (while still in the driveway), I may have screamed a little more. (Okay, it was actually a lot.)
The cover was beautiful, glossy, and bright, and my name was front and center—MY name; but it was a whole other ball game when I opened it up and started to read it…and realized that it really was an uncorrected advance copy. I also realized that reviewers were going to read it this way, with spelling errors and passages that still needed to be corrected. In my head I could hear Lady Catherine de Bourgh shouting, “Is this to be borne? No, it certainly is not!” But, there was nothing she, nor I could do. The final, edited, highly-polished version of The Truth About Mr. Darcy was still in its final stages of editing. Sigh.
At the moment, though, the prologue is not, so I thought I’d share it with you today. I know that some of you are already familiar with it, having read TTAMD when it was once upon a time known as Affinity and Affection. For those of you who have not, though, here’s a little peek at the first page or so of the book. Thank you so much for reading.
Prologue, The Truth About Mr. Darcy
She came to him one night as he sat reading in the quiet solitude of Netherfield’s library, the delicate scent of lavender preceding her lovely form. He closed his eyes as he leaned his head back and inhaled her heady fragrance, a feeling of intoxication washing over his senses.
Without pause, she settled herself upon his lap and slid her arms across his chest to his shoulders, her slender fingers wandering to the edge of his cravat to tease the skin of his neck.
He swallowed hard, struggling to regain the stoic composure she always managed to rob him of whenever she was near. Tonight, with her dark hair falling past her shoulders in silken curls, she was nothing short of breathtaking.
He looked upon her in wonder as the hint of a smile played seductively upon her rosy lips. She pressed her soft body firmly against his, her curves rendering him utterly powerless, her eyes sparkling with an invitation. Every fiber of his being ached to touch her, to tell her of his ardent—almost painful—desire for her, to finally claim her as his own after so many weeks of fantasies and sleepless nights.
Slowly, she began to feather her lips along his jaw, her hands blazing a path of fire over his chest before moving to unbutton his waistcoat.
As her lips came to rest lightly against his own, so lightly they barely touched, she spoke, her voice low and sultry.
“Have you been waiting long?” Her breath was hot against his flesh.
With a throb of longing that could no longer be denied, the last fragments of his resolve crashed around him as he surrendered to her, claiming her lips in a desperate kiss and tangling his hands possessively into her hair. When they parted, their breathing was ragged, and their cheeks flushed.
“You have not answered my question, sir,” she said on a breath. “How long have you been waiting for me?”
His voice was hoarse, and he whispered with feeling, “My entire life, Elizabeth…”
The winning at Austen Authors continues with our Fortnight Quiz 2. This one is based on the posts from January 16-31, 2011. Like always, if one cannot remember the answers, he/she may seek out the site’s archives on the lower left. The winner, who will be chosen by Random.org from among those with the most correct answers, will receive a very unique gift. Our own Susan Kaye has offered up a cross-stitched bookmark (similar to the one on the right), which she will create herself. The winner will have the opportunity to request his/her favorite Jane Austen quote for the bookmark. So, here we go…
- Margaret Dods was a pseudonym for ________?
- Who is Mary Wollstonecraft’s famous daughter?
- What is Sharon Lathan’s favorite book (beside her own or a Jane Austen story)?
- What might one call “foot clogs supported upon an iron ring that raised the wearer a couple of inches from the ground”?
- To what film music does Mary Simonsen suggest her Austen character theme songs?
- Who wrote The British at Play: A Social History of British Sport from 1600 to the Present?
- In Juliet Archer’s micro-sequel, what two scents trigger Lady Catherine’s “fond memories”?
- Which actress played both Elizabeth Bennet in 1952′s Pride and Prejudice and Anne Elliot in 1961′s Persuasion?
- When and where was the first speed skating race held?
- Which groups are known as the “old line organizations”?
- Which AuAu author actually briefly met Colin Firth?
- What is a “drabble”?
- Which krewe is credited with throwing the first medallions/doubloons at Mardi Gras?
- Who wrote Jane Austen: A Family Record?
- What was the original title of The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy?
- The last shot of the 1995 Persuasion is of a ship silhouetted against a sunset. From what film was the shot taken?
In real life, someone will occasionally make a rude or cutting remark and, rather than immediately being able to put them in their place, I’ll be rendered speechless…left merely staring at them, stunned, my tongue unable to find the perfect retort.
It’s unclear whether, in real life, Jane Austen herself ever experienced that same feeling of muteness but, thanks to the wonders of fiction, we know that her finest characters did not. They were witty and clever and oh-so-fast with their conversational comebacks.
One of my favorites has always been the Lizzy/Lady Catherine de Bourgh scene in Pride and Prejudice (while they were walking in that “prettyish kind of little wilderness”). Her Ladyship volleys questions and demands at Lizzy, but the intelligent Bennet girl returns them with swift cunning and wit. And though Lady Catherine insults her by every possible method, presenting with arrogance and extreme lack of tact the familiar objection to Lizzy and Darcy’s potential courtship (namely the low connections of the Bennet family as compared to those of the Darcys), Lizzy keeps her head about her. She infuriates Darcy’s aunt by her composure and her unwillingness to be cornered. As a last-ditch effort, her Ladyship attempts to bully Lizzy into agreeing never to become engaged to Darcy, but our smart and spirited heroine pointedly refuses to make any promise of the kind.
Exasperated, Lady Catherine finally says, “You are then resolved to have him?”
To which Lizzy replies, “I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.”
I will always love that line! Not only the fabulous comeback but, also, the show of personal strength and the sentiment behind the statement.
What’s a scene you loved from an Austen story (or from anywhere in the world of fiction) where you felt one character really gave a terrific retort? Did it leave you cheering? And are you good at snappy comebacks yourself or, like me, don’t think of the perfect response until hours (or days) later?
Have a great weekend, everyone!!
PAIRS - If you know one, you’ll get the other one right! Listed below are a pair of slightly related secrets that belong to two authors. These secrets may be something the author emailed me, or something that can be found on this blog (which means you might know it!). The authors to choose from are listed below the secrets. You must give the letter of the secret associated to each correct author in the pair.
We then moved onto the 2010 awards, and I’m delighted that two of my fellow St Martin’s Press authors were also successful. And yes, after all that wait it was absolutely wonderful that Murder at Mansfield Park did indeed win in its category!
A bit late, but better late than never, here are the winners from my launch day party! First, the lucky winner of the signed copy of What Would Mr. Darcy Do? is Colleen. Please send me your snail mail address, Colleen, and I’ll send it right off to you.
|Front: Mary, Sally
Back: Betty, Nancy, Kathe
????Even more than Christmas, I associate Easter with my mother, probably because of the awful things Mom did to my hair. I was either going to have bangs that were a quarter of an inch long or a Toni permanent that made me look like a poodle. (My mother could not abide straight hair.)
By Susan Kaye
Now is the time of year that young men’s hearts turn to thoughts of love, and women begin to dream of wearing open-toed shoes again. It is also the time of year when people begin to contemplate Forms 1099, 1040s, and W-2s. Yes, Folks, it’s Tax Time!
It the spirit of the season, I wondered how Jane Austen would react to a little I. R. S. interlude.
Bear with me, the plot is thin and I go for laughs over great writing form every time. In addition, if you are with the I. R. S., I am actually a Canadian living in Moose Jaw. I’ll worry about what to say when I find out about Canada’s Income Extraction Day.
The international financial crisis has forced countries to search for alternative revenue streams. The Untitled States is no exception. In a super-secret bunker in an undisclosed location in Virginia, agents of the U. S. Internal Revenue Service are busily at work perfecting the Capturing Revenue from Reanimated Authors And Artists of the Past Program. Their motto: We bring new meaning to the old saw, “Nothing is more certain than death and taxes.”
In a tiny, nondescript hole-in-the-wall office, a balding man is sitting behind an imposing grey metal desk while a woman wearing a long dress and bonnet sits before him. He looks annoyed and she looks strangely out of her element.
“Your name is Jane Austen is that correct? And you are single, and an author?” The agent, Thomas Mord, leafed through several sheets of paper and then looked at the woman.
“Yes. I mean, no. Yes, I am Miss Jane Austen and that is correct, I am not married. I am an author.” She took pride is saying such. It was the first time since finding herself in the strange building that she was quite certain of anything.
The agent murmured and pulled out a single sheet from his stack, marking it with a regulation blue pen. He placed them carefully before him, folded his hands and smiled. “Ms Austen, let me explain why you are here.”
“That will be excellent. Thank you.”
The agent was not used to such kindness during the preliminaries of an audit. Most auditees were nervous or blustering. This woman’s pleasant manner was a new ruse to disarm him he was sure. “You are here, Ms Austen, because the Internal Revenue Service—“
“I much admire the Revenue Service. Capturing smugglers is very exciting, I think, and it serves a very important function.”
The agent paused and cleared his throat. “I suppose you could look at what I do as thwarting smuggling. Thank you. Anyway, in the U. S. are looking for new sources of income—“
“We are much the same then. I too was looking for income when I began to sell my writings. It is very gratifying, is it not, to earn one’s way?”
Again, the agent cleared his throat. “Yes, it is. That being said, we are launching a pilot program wherein authors, such as yourself, who, though … “ His voice faded off. It was the most difficult part of the program, explaining to these long-deceased artists and authors that they had been, thanks to a certain website on an offshore server, reanimated so that the government could extract more taxes. “People such as yourself who have been in quiet retirement for several years, and have been found to be profiting more from the Internet—“
“Is that how I was brought here? By a net?”
“It’s a little more complicated than that. Those we feel are profiting by the World Wide Web—“
Miss Austen sat back in her seat and rubbed her arms. “Oh, sir, I do not like spiders.” She glanced about the bare room to assure herself it was not infested.
“No, of course, no one really does. Anyway, despite your … your being out of the public eye for so long, your work is gaining in popularity.” He shuffled more papers. “For example, Colin Firth of … Pride and Prejudice has gone on to have a very successful career. In fact, he has just won an Oscar—“
Miss Austen leant forward. “I can assure you, sir, there is no one by the name of Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. I write of good English people and he sounds to be Scottish with a name like ‘Firth.’ And what is this outrage of him winning an Oscar? Slavery is well on the way to being abolished in our country! Who is this Firth person to be wagering on a poor fellow named Oscar?” She clutched her reticule and took a deep breath.
Mord was feeling more comfortable. He was used to red faces, anger, and even shouting. The woman’s reaction made the session a little less tense, though what she said made little sense. “I don’t know about any of that, and I don’t know how he came to be called Oscar—“
“I tried very hard to stay away from the subject of slavery in Mansfield Park. I may have made a mistake there, but I did not wish to divert from—“
“So, is Mansfield Park your permanent address?” He quickly shuffled through papers. “We don’t have any address other than Winchester Cathedral.” His fingers were poised to take down an address.
“Uh, no, Mansfield Park is the principal seat of the Bertram family.”
“Principal Seat?” Chair makers, he supposed. “So, you live with these Bertrams?”
“I suppose it could be said that our characters are like family, and that an author lives with all of them.”
“I don’t need to know how many there are—that would be the Census Bureau’s department—I just need the address.”
“There is also Northanger Abbey.”
“So you live … in an abbey. Then you are a nun.” He began to search. “That will be another form for an exclusion for religious workers.”
“No, no. I am not a nun. Northanger Abbey belongs to the Tilney family. The youngest boy is all right, but the father and the older son are … well, never mind. You see, I sold Northanger—“
“I, mmm,” Mord made a sound that could only be described as a titter. He scratched the top of his left hand. He got an itch every year around tax time. So far, this year were pretty tame, but it seemed that Ms Austen was going to be the one who kept the tradition alive. The agent took several forms from his desk. “So, you have had some capital gains?”
“I thought it was a capital story, but the publisher did not print it so I thought it best, under the circumstances to buy it back and wait for a more propitious time in the market.”
The itch intensified. “So, in all of that, you had a capital loss,” he pulled out more forms, “that being the case you will need to fill out these.” He slid the forms towards Miss Austen.
She slid them back. “You misunderstand me. I own no real estate. I cannot.”
“You say you can’t own property. Why would that be?” Again, he made ready to take notes.
“Well, no, and it is outrageously unfair in that regard. The laws are a scandal and should be overturned—“
The agent stood. “Are you, Ms Austen, suggesting … anarchy?”
“Certainly not, sir, but I do not think that could be any worse than—“
The interview went on in this manner for some time. Finally, Mr. Mord sent Miss Austen on her way with instructions to gather all her receipts pertaining to her writing. He had given her an appointment card for the 29th. While he was curious to know how much she spent on goose feather quills, he was already planning to take a sick day.
He went into the break room and found other agents milling around the coffee maker. Agent Joan Twinge followed him, yanked the carafe from the coffee maker and poured herself a tall one.
Thomas was hoping to ask Joan out once the program was in its evaluations stage so he said, “I think this Capturing Revenue from Reanimated Authors And Artists of the Past Program is a waste of time. These people are a little nuts.”
Ms Twinge had put six packets of sweetener and two packets of powdered creamer into her coffee. She was stirring furiously, and then flicked the plastic stirrer in his direction. “I know what you mean. I’ve got Thomas Paine in my office and I can tell you, he really is! He keeps yellin’ ‘give me liberty or give me death.’ I’m about to.” She tossed the stirrer and the coffee in the trash. “There’s not a lick of common sense about this guy, no matter what he says.” The door slammed behind her.
Mord wiped the coffee drips off his face. Fritchall came in and slumped at one of the table.
“How’s it going with you, Fritch?”
Fritch sighed and accepted a cup of coffee. “That Van Gogh guy really was really nuts. He wants to claim his ear as a business loss. He doesn’t have it in his possession, he’s got no medical receipts, and the only confirmation he’s got that anything actually happened is a note from the town barber sayin’ he saw it and put a wad of cotton on the guy’s head.” He set his coffee down and laid his head on his arms. “What is so hard about keeping receipts?”
Agent Mord dumped out his cold coffee and straightened his tie. “I hear you. My next guy is named Wilde. I’m thinkin’s he’s probably every bit that, and more.” As he went to his office, he thought, Oscar Wilde. He wondered if there was a way to work Jane Austen and Colin Firth into the conversation.
Take care—Susan Kaye